LePage vows to veto Democratic budget, calls for compromise

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Carol Weston, Maine State Director of Americans for Prosperity, introduces Gov. Paul R. LePage

AUGUSTA – Maine Gov. Paul R. LePage announced Thursday that he intends to veto the Legislature’s budget proposal and called on Democratic leaders to join him in negotiating a 60-day continuing resolution (CR) to fund state government so a better budget can be crafted.

“This budget makes us all victims,” said Maine State Director of Americans for Prosperity Carol Weston during a rally in the Hall of Flags at the State House.

“Even though you work harder, you’ll bring home less,” said Weston, who introduced the governor. “This budget needs a veto.”

Standing before an enthusiastic crowd of several dozen supporters, a cheery yet serious LePage recalled the series of events that had led to this point.

“I submitted my balanced budget in January. And after months of early morning drinking bills and teen tanning bills, Democrats finally found time to do the budget,” said LePage. “Their budget raises taxes on hard working Mainers.”

“I’m here to tell you, I will veto that budget.”

The governor said that while neither Senate President Justin Alfond (D-Portland) nor House Speaker Mark Eves (D-North Berwick) made any attempt to discuss the budget with him over the last five months, he attempted to go to the Appropriations Committee but was shot down.

Rather than negotiate, said the governor, Democrats chose to raise the threat of a government shutdown in order to force their agenda – a threat that has led many Republicans, including House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport), to support the tax-increasing budget.

“A government shutdown – that’s how they get weak Republicans to cave,” said LePage.

To great cheers from his supporters, the governor reaffirmed his commitment to representing taxpayers – the only group, he said, that is not represented in the State House.

“I will continue to fight against tax increases – even the little ones,” he said.

Mary Adams, Maine Chair of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge project, has been in the Augusta fighting against taxes and for limited government for more than four decades. Following the governor’s remarks, she delivered a rousing speech in support of LePage’s veto, and offered some harsh words for the press, too.

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Mary Adams, chair of Maine’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge project, has been labeled a “tax guerrilla” by Maine’s media for her 40-year long commitment to limited government.

“In 40 years I have not seen this kind of intelligence, real compassion, business ability and courage all wrapped up in one governor,” said Adams. “Sadly, the government at all levels is exceeding our ability to pay for it – or live with it. We see it in our tax bills, the growing Nanny State, the reduction of our Constitutional freedoms, and our lifeless economy,” she said.

Adams, who led a successful effort to repeal that state property tax in 1977, said previous governors and legislatures have caved to the “takers” – a class of individuals who are content to remain dependent on the myriad public assistance programs that perennially strain the state budget. She said that LePage’s principled stance has helped place Maine on a path of renewal and hope.

“Governor, you’ve got a huge fan club in the ordinary people of Maine who see through the smoke and mirrors of Augusta and who urge you to keep on keeping on,” she said.

As for the news media present, Adams issued a stern and urgent call. “The press better wake up to what’s going on here,” she said.

Less than ten minutes after LePage proposed a compromise that could potentially avoid both tax hikes and a government shutdown, Democrats rejected the governor’s overture.

Democratic leaders Alfond and Eves were nowhere to be found during the press conference.

The Democratic rebuttal came instead from Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), who reiterated early statements in which he called the Legislature’s budget proposal the best compromise he’s ever been a part of.

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Assistant Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) delivered the Democratic rebuttal.

In response to a reporter’s question about LePage’s proposed 60-day C.R., Jackson said, “I think that’s something we don’t need to talk about right now.”

Jackson’s comments seem to indicate that Democrats will remain unwilling to compromise with the governor to avoid tax increases and a government shutdown.

In response to Jackson’s comments, LePage lampooned the senator from Aroostook for his actions during the 126th Legislature.

“[Assistant Senate Minority Leader Jackson] claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline,” said LePage. He said Jackson’s legislative activity involved trying to take away his pension and sell the Blaine House.

“That’s the kind of guy he is,” said LePage. “People like Troy Jackson, they ought to go back into the woods and cut trees and let someone with a brain come down here and do some good work.”

LePage’s game-changing proposal places responsibility for a potential government shutdown squarely on Democrats’ shoulders — a fact Democrats and liberal activists will surely reject. But if Republicans cannot muster the votes to sustain the governor’s veto, then the strategic threat of a shutdown will have served its purpose.

Although House Republican Leader Fredette voted in favor of the tax-increasing budget and did not attend today’s press conference, several Republicans in the Legislature, including Senate Minority Leader Michael Thibodeau (R-Winterport), Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst) and Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough), support the governor’s veto and proposed C.R., and there are signs that even more Republicans will stand with the governor.

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Gov. LePage greeted supporters in the Cabinet Room following his press conference.

“I’m not going to go back to my constituents in Washington County and tell them that the only way to balance the budget was to raise their taxes,” said Rep. Lockman, who was part of a group of conservative Republicans who two weeks ago suggested a comprehensive package of spending cuts to the Appropriations Committee.

“What [Assistant Majority Leader Jackson] says about tax cuts not being paid for doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me,” he said. “We know now that state revenues have increased from 2011 to 2012 and from 2012 to now—even with the governor’s tax cuts.”

“Forcing Mainers to pay more for Augusta’s irresponsibility is not the solution,” said Lockman.

“Democrats should answer the governor’s call, come to the table like grown-ups, and negotiate a budget that works for Mainers, not just the governing class.”

S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter
serobinson@themainewire.com

34 COMMENTS

  1. I’ll remind MaineWire readers that the budget originally proposed by Gov. LePage in January included direct tax increases, and also reneged on Revenue Sharing, cutting over $200 million in revenue from towns across Maine.

    Contact your town manager to see what Revenue Sharing cuts will mean.

  2. The governor’s timing and strategy is interesting. No one on his staff can talk to the press regarding the budget; indicates he’s taking the full 10 days to review before responding; wants to offer a compromise which means it’s his way or the highway; and if the governor’s compromise is not accepted he will shut down the government blaming the Democrats. This is all about showing the national political powers that he too can generate his own sequester; just in time for the Jeb Bush visit and the big fund raiser.

    Regarding the budget, the governor has also taken a page from those on the national scene; “starve-the-beast”. The approach is to create or increase existing budget deficits via tax cuts to force future reductions in the size of government; note last year’s tax cuts benefiting primarily the wealthy in Maine. In turn the social programs such as food stamps, social security, and Medicare, and Public Education become targets for reduction; though military spending, prisons, and weapons do not.

    The wealthy are happy because they get the benefit of greater tax cuts and most importantly are not affected by cuts in programs the middle-class and poor desperately need.

    “starve-the-beast” is not about starving the government; it is about starving Mitt Romney’s 47%; you, your family, and your future generations.

  3. I marvel at the disengenuous remarks posted here, unfairly attempting to blame Governor LePage for this budget showdown. This fiasco falls squarely into the laps of the dishonest Democrats under the alledged leadership of Alfond and Eves, and their demonizing mouthpiece Troy Jackson, who is a despicable person. The Democrats are doing what they always do to try to cover up their mismanagement, raise taxes. Raise taxes on a dwindling number of taxpayers in this state. It’s stupid, irresponsible and unsustainable. Governor LePage is correct to oppose thus budget and the few waffling, spineless Republicans who sided with the Dembiciles better wake up, grow a pair and stand with the Governor and the people of Maine.

  4. The use of “Dembiciles” is so mature. But I’ll remind you that every Republican on the AFA Committee supported the FY2014-15 budget (LD1559), and that it initially passed the House unanimously, A majority of Senate Republicans voted to enact it, and only 10 Republicans in the House voted to sustain the veto (the Senate will vote on the override next week).

    This is not a “Democratic budget,” but a truly bipartisan one.

  5. Dirigo…. the use of Dembiciles is much more nature than a lot of the rhetoric that comes from your side of the aisle….as for you citing ‘overwhelming bipartisanship’ on this budget, I’ll just say this…. any Republican who votes to raise taxes on the already overtaxed people of Maine are fools who should be run out of office as they are playing the go along to get along game and are not standing on principle.

  6. Until now I could somehow always overlook the Governor’s off the cut, albeit crude remarks. I was offended and embarrassed by yesterday’s crude remark, and of course this gives him one more nail in his political coffin for the next election. I don’t know why he goes crude, but I wish he would get help to stop it. His language needs as much an over haul as Maine’s Government policies regarding our economy. Governor take yourself to the language equivalent of what you are trying to do for Maine’s economy. Gov. I full heartedly approve of your economic policies, but you keep shooting yourself in the foot and hardworking Mainer’s will be left behind AGAIN come next election! Governor you owe Maine an apology!

  7. What the Wealthy save in taxes they reinvest in the local economy and property improvements; which in turn increases the value of the tax base.

    It’s the middle class who invests tax savings in IRA’s etc.

    I’ve long documented how the ‘best’ in Maine’s economy really caters to wealthy people….boat building, home remodeling, and even the Sunday film crowd at Railroad Cinema. Artists, crafts people, and even mural painters all live on the work given them by the wealthy.

    Chanting left wing script is simply mindless babble.

  8. Hi!

    Governor LePage’s comments are refreshing.

    Maine needs a tough governor to uphold the rights of ALL people of Maine and NOT just some.

    We are way over taxed these days. It’s time to move out.

    So what if his comments are sometimes offensive. Get over it. At least he gets some people’s attention by it.

    We need a government by the people, for the people, and of the people. This is the way it was at one time.

    What happened to the State of Maine being such a communist state?

    NO more taxes.

    Thank you!

    Lise from Maine.

  9. Has no one noticed that after all that wailing about “tax cuts for the rich” the Democrats’ solution is an increase in sales taxes? Has anyone heard an estimate of the revenues anticipated from taxing the rich?

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